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tv   Tech Know  Al Jazeera  July 25, 2015 6:30pm-7:01pm EDT

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to see change. >> gripping. inspiring. entertaining. talk to al jazeera. only on al jazeera america. >> this is "techknow". a show about innovations that can change lives. >> the science of fighting a wildfire. >> we're going to explore the intersection of hardware and humanity, but we're doing it in a unique way. this is a show about science... >> oh! >> oh my god! >> by scientists. >> tonight, techknow investigates shrimp safety. >> seafood by nature is a high risk commodity. >> americans love their shrimp but most of it comes from countries that use extensive antibiotics that could make you ill. now, techknow goes inside the federal testing program... >> i'm makin' a shrimp powder. >> that's supposed to protect the food supply. dr. shini somara is a mechanical
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engineer. she'll share the results of her investigation. >> now how dangerous is that for human beings? >> and i'm phil torres, i'm an entomologist. i visit a shrimp farm in the middle of indiana... yes, indiana... that could revolutionize the industry. >> wow, this is like a little laboratory here. >> yes it is. >> and a shrimp farm. >> cara santa maria is a neuroscientist. >> imagine that you are one of the first to take a trip to mars. this is the definition of pioneering. >> that's what makes it exciting. >> that's our team, now let's do some science. >> hey! i got some! >> hey guys and welcome to techknow i'm phil torres joined by doctor shini somara and cara santa maria. now guys i'm not going to lie, one of my favorite things is shrimp sizzling away on a hot grill.
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but i also have a fair amount of hesitation when it comes to actually knowing where that shrimp comes from. >> yeah and you may not realize it but shrimp raised overseas can have high levels of antibiotics and other additives that don't always pass american safety standards. >> and america imports a lot of shrimp over a billion pounds worth. so we asked the food and drug administration, the agency responsible for policing u.s. ports, if we could follow them while they test for unsafe shipments. >> america has a jumbo appetite for shrimp. >> it's a little piece of flesh that they can eat easy; it's kinda like popcorn of the sea. >> americans eat an average of four pounds per person per year. at "fred 62" in los angeles, chef fred eric serves a lot of shrimp. >> it's very difficult as a chef or restaurateur to buy shrimp with the confidence that what
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you serving them is going to be good. thai cob freshwhich, with shrimp. >> americans taste for shrimp comes with a price. 90 percent of all the shrimp eaten in the u.s. is imported... much of it from countries like india, thailand and indonesia. >> sometimes shrimp is raised overseas using production drugs like antibiotics that are approved for use in those countries but not approved for use in the us. >> johns hopkins microbiologist david love surveyed federal data on drugs found in imported shrimp. >> some of the top drugs that we found in shrimp were nitrofurans, chloramphenicol tetracycline, sulfonamides, and streptomycin. what does it means for the consumer to be exposed to the antibiotic resistant bacteria? if you get an infection from these bacteria it can be harder to treat with antibiotics, especially if these bacteria are resistant to the antibiotics
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that your doctor would prescribe. >> overseas shrimp farms that use antibiotics often farm with over-crowded ponds. >> and diseases are a big deal in shrimp farming, there can be a high mortality rate in some shrimp farms. >> the food and drug administration polices shrimp imports. >> 5.5 billion pounds of seafood is imported into the united states every year and much of it ends up in a cold storage facility like this one in southern california, but only a tiny fraction of all of that seafood is actually inspected so we've come here today to find out exactly how the fda does that. >> emily morrison is a veteran fda inspector. >> we collected one sub sample
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out of 15 random boxes and now i'm in the process of bagging them up, put them in coolers and ship it to the lab. >> a computer system red flags imports believed to pose the greatest risk based on country of origin and a company's past history of violations. >> seafood by nature is a high-risk commodity. >> dan solis heads inspections at the port of los angeles. >> there are many boxes here and they are all packed full, what percentage of this sample gets chosen to be taken to the lab? >> so, fda reviews all electronic transmissions. we utilized things like foreign inspection, domestic inspection, whether it was sampled in another port, all that information is gathered within the predict application and then that shipment will be given a risk score, the higher the risk score the more chances one of these officers will sample that shipment.
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>> once the fda inspector picks samples for inspection they are sent to a fda lab like this one in irvine california. >> are you making a shrimp smoothie? >> i'm making a shrimp powder. >> its like a magic trick! >> yes. >> the shrimp powder is mixed with a chemical solvent, dried and liquefied again to run through an analyzer. kai wang is a fda chemist. >> so kai the results are in from the test, what are they showing us? >> in this case, the compound i am looking for is nitrofurons. >> and how dangerous is that for human beings? >> nitrofurons are dangerous for human beings because it's carcinogenic. the fda action level for nitrofuron is one parts per billion. one parts per billion is the equivalent of looking for one gram of salt in an olympic sized
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swimming pool. >> wow! so how many parts is this per billion is this result? >> i would say it's about 1 to 2 parts per billion. >> so two grains of salt in an olympic sized swimming pool and you've managed to find it it that vial? >> yeah. >> that's incredible. so that batch of shrimp is not allowed in this country, essentially? >>it's not going to be allowed in this country. >> the fda simply isn't testing enough on the imported market to really find all of these violative residues. >> dr. urvashi rangan headed a study of imported shrimp for the june 2015 issue of the influential magazine "consumer reports." >> of the 205 imported farm samples that we found, 11 of those actually had illegal residues of antibiotics on them. that comes out to about 5% of the imported farmed shrimp samples being contaminated with an illegal antibiotic residue. the fact that the fda only tests about .7 percent of all the
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shrimp in this country for those antibiotic residues suggests that the agency is not actually testing enough shrimp to catch the amount of illegal residue products that may be coming into the market. >> however, many of the countries that export the shrimp permit the use of antibiotics. >> when you feed low levels of antibiotics every day, you're not feeding them enough to necessarily kill bacteria. those bacteria can become resistant to those antibiotics that can make those antibiotics less effective in people if we're infected by those bacteria. >> just as worrisome was the number of shrimp that tested positive for bacteria. >> we found about a third of the shrimp that we had, had vibrio contamination. vibrio is one of the few food borne illnesses on the rise. seven of the samples we found had mrsa. that's concerning too and that's probably primarily associated with the amount of processing that goes on with shrimp production. >> both have the potential to
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cause illness, although through the cooking process they can be killed. >> we do know that there are shrimp farms and shrimp production practices that are doing a lot more to address those issues, that are addressing hygiene and addressing other issues so that they aren't heavily reliant on drugs or other chemicals. >> hey i got some! >> yep! >> when we come back, phil torres with some pioneers of shrimp farming. >> so, this is a clean shrimp? >> that's a clean shrimp. >> we want to hear what you think about these stories. join the conversation by following us on twitter and at aljazeera.com/techknow. >> there's a line of police advancing toward the crowd here. >> ferguson: city under siege. >> it isn't easy to talk openly on this base. >> and america's war workers. >> it's human trafficking.
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>> watch these and other episodes online now at aljazeera.com/faultlines.
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>> brittany menard's decision to take her own life last year. sparked a national debate. >> brittany didn't wan't to die the brain tumor was killing her, she simply took control over how that process would go. >> now see what her husband is doing to keep his promise to change "right to die" laws nationwide. america tonight only on al jazeera america. >> six hundred miles from the nearest ocean... nestled in a patchwork of windmills and soybean and cornfields is tiny fowler indiana, home to r-d-m aquaculture... a mom and pop indoor saltwater shrimp farm. >> hi, how are you? >> hi guys! very good. >> hi, i'm darryl. >> darryl, very nice to meet you. >> and i'm karlanea. welcome to rdm shrimp. let's go. >> karlanea and darryl brown are accidental shrimp farming pioneers. >> how we doing on count? >> i'm at six pounds.
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>> with their two dozen basic backyard pools as growing tanks, they've perfected an indoor system with zero waste... no chemicals and a 90 percent survival rate. that's a third higher than traditional outdoor shrimp farms. >> wow, this is like a little laboratory here? >> yes it is. >> and a shrimp farm? >> yes it is. we do nine tests every single day. we do temperature, dissolved oxygen, nitrite, co2, salinity alkalinity, ph, ammonia and floc. is brown. the test we're doing here right now is we're trying to see how much bacteria is in our water, and we call this settling. >> so you're basically waiting for all this bacteria to go to the bottom, and that tells you how much is in there? >> how much we have in it, exactly. and if we're over a certain level than we have to get it out of the tanks otherwise it's gonna start suffocating out the shrimp. that's very important, that has to be done every day. basically we're not even shrimp farmers anymore we actually call ourselves guardians of water. as long as the water does what it's supposed to be doing, the shrimp do just fine. we add no antibiotics, no
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hormones are ever added into our tanks. >> you heard that right, no antibiotics, no hormones, just fish food, salt and baking soda. it's called a heterotrophic biofloc system... a process that revolves around bacteria. >> now it looks very brown, what is this brown that i'm seeing? >> the brown is the bacteria. the bacteria is what eats all their waste so they can survive without a major filter system. >> here's what's happening below the surface... the shrimp eat their feed and excrete ammonia. the bacteria turns that into toxic nitrites. other bacteria turn that into benign nitrates... and as the water is aerated, the nitrates turn into a harmless gas... and around and around. >> how long have you had this water? >> four years. >> how does that compare to other shrimp farms? >> most of them don't have water that long. we by mistake kept our water. >> it's like it's maturing. it's like wine. >> yeah it does. and we just found out that the older it gets the better
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it gets. >> and so too for the shrimp... the growing process starts every month with about 250 thousand newborns, called post larvals, nicknamed pls. >> now we are going to show you our pls. and when they come in they're the size of an eye lash. >> so it's hard to see inside this water, but how many shrimp are actually in here? >> we stock about 17,000 in each one of my 6 tanks here. >> so what are all these tubes coming down? >> those are air lines. >> and that adds the oxygen? >> adds their oxygen and it keeps everything in suspension. cause if this stuff settles i only have 20 minutes and they're dead. >> 20 minutes? >> 20 minutes and they'll be dead. >> everything here seems so precise. >> it has to be, it's mother nature. >> well, it is mother nature... but with a lot of help from a mother in indiana. >> i noticed there's foam on top, what is this foam? >> the foam is mostly c02 mixing with their feed that just comes to the top, and it will actually disappear. >> so it's just part of the process? >> just part of the process.
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>> hey i got some! >> yep, you did. >> look at that... wow. so this is not what you see in the supermarket when you get a shrimp? >> no, because they can't be frozen with the head on. they're very translucent and one of the characteristics we actually look for, you see the long antennas? that tells me they're happy. if their antennas are short they're stressing out. but if you can see here, this is their only protection, and he's mad right now. that mouth piece is coming forward and he's very angry at me right now. >> that shrimp has a little horn. >> yeah and then if you can look right where your thumb is at that's where his heart is at also. and you can see his heart beating. >> wow, you really can. >> a month later they're promoted to the production tank... where they'll turn into dinner. >> now we're talkin'. >> so you need 40 of 'em to a pound. >> i'm going to have to keep going. >> you're gonna have to keep going. >> you've got six. >> (laughing) are you saying i'm a bad scooper? >> the browns sell about 500
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pounds directly to walk-ins each month at 18-dollars a pound. >> thank you very much. >> thank you very much. >> they've also sold their know-how to 2-dozen start up farms in the u.s. as well as ones in switzerland haiti and spain. >> these companies are really innovators, they are trying out new technology. >> johns hopkins microbiologist david love studies shrimp production. he gives the production like the brown's a high grade with one caveat... one that could ultimately make or break in the business world. >> a lot of these farms might start out with a bang but then fizzle out after a few years because they don't make money. >> for the browns shrimp farming is paying off... no financial fizzle, only sizzle as the business continues to grow. >> is it ready yet? >> just about... >> but the proof of their success is what ends up on the plate and in this case innovation tastes pretty good when served with a profit. >> that is so good!
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>> now i still can't get over the fact that possibly the cleanest and arguably the best shrimp in the world may come from the middle of indiana. so, i brought you guys some. >> mmm. >> yes! >> in the tank it looks a little gross i get that, but it's chemistry in there. >> it's really good. >> the end result is... really good. >> there's a global problem with using a lot of antibiotics in farming. the more antibiotics used, the more we're going to start seeing antibiotic resistant superbugs. it happens in agribusiness here in the u.s., it happens overseas, it even happens in medical practice. >> you know a lot of people ask why we should care if there's some superbug that can infect shrimp, how does that affect us? but what they've found is that bacteria can actually swap genes, so potentially if the bacteria that infects shrimp becomes resistant it could swap that gene into a bacteria that infects us, and so that resistance can be passed on and the amount of, you know,
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millions of pounds of antibiotics are being used around the world, not just in shrimp but in cattle and poultry as well. that is going to catch up to us when it hits our healthcare system. >> yeah, it's called a spillover event, it's a zoonotic infection. its an infection that happens in an animal species and then (snaps finger), just like that a human can get infected too. and it's been the source of most deadly diseases that medicine can't keep up with. >> and that's where you look at the numbers: okay, we have a billion pounds getting imported here, only about 2% get inspected. what about the 98%? it's important to have confidence in the system moving forward if we're going to keep eating shrimp. >> and the inspection process was so random. i mean, the amount of shipment that came in versus what actually made it into a lab was tiny. >> well guys i think we're going to finish up the shrimp here as we take a break, but cara what do you have coming up for us next? >> yeah really interesting story. now imagine that you are one of the first pioneers to take a trip to mars. but also imagine that you're not
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allowed to come home it's a one way trip. would you guys do it? well after the break we're going to meet somebody who's already signed up. people have camped out in a school ground.
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>> we're back here on techknow with an intriguing question. would you take a trip to mars? >> would you? >> this mission is still in its planning stages but some people out there say that they're for real, they are planning to go to mars but they are prepared to not come back. >> would you guys want to take it? >> i met a woman who's already signed up and she's raring to go. >> for decades, humanity has been fascinated with a manned expedition to mars. >> this is the definition of pioneering. that doesn't scare you? >> that's what makes it exciting. >> robotic pioneers like the mars curiosity rover have been crawling around the cratered landscape, uncovering clues
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about whether this distant planet can sustain life as we know it. >> do you have the right stuff? >> i have that right stuff. >> jaymee del rosario is a 27 year old entrepreneur and ceo of international metal source, a raw materials company that supplies metals to aerospace companies like spacex and lockheed martin. she is one of 100 candidates that has been selected by mars one, a private company that wants to colonize the red planet. the catch? there's no return flight home. >> what do you say to people when they say, "jaymee this is a suicide mission why are you doing it"? >> call it a suicide mission but it's something that i chose. i'm creating my own destiny for myself. and if it's a destiny that would help humanity, i'm all for it. >> according to mars one, one of the main goals of the project is to establish an interplanetary species to preserve the human race.
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>> jaymee made it to top 100-the third round of a selection process mars one says started with 200,000 on-line applicants. ultimately, 24 crew members will be chosen. >> do you think anybody with enough training could become an astronaut? >> i believe that if you have the motivation and determination of wanting to do it, you can. >> a mission to mars is obviously no simple matter. pasadena, california is home to the mars program at nasa's jet propulsion laboratory. nasa has taken man to the moon and back. but they've approached this journey with a much more deliberate and rigorous training program. >> i'm now on the base on mars and i will give you a little tour. >> in 2015, six volunteer scientists walked out of a dome
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on the side of a hawaiian volcano after being locked away by nasa for eight months. this was a simulated experiment of what life on mars would be like. coexisting is one challenge. getting there and surviving is an entirely different endeavor. >> landing on mars is still a pretty, well sometimes it can be quite a terrifying thing. >> dr. richard zurek is the chief scientist for the mars program at nasa's jet propulsion laboratory. >> a lot of things have to happen right. right now we fly into the atmosphere, we have a heat shield that protects us, but we're also trying to slow down so we can land softly. we're talking about a very different scale of endeavor. we're landing a metric ton down on the planet today, we think for human missions to get stuff down on the surface that they can use, that they can be there
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for a long period of time, that means forty, fifty metric tons. that's a lot of material. today, we don't know how to land that. >> mars one has come under much critical fire for their project. primarily due to funding issues and for reports of recording the mission for a reality show. in march 2015, ceo bas lansdorp took to youtube to respond. >> they are currently selling the documentary series to an international broadcaster. there's no deal in place yet but it's looking very promising, there's a lot of interest. at mars one we really value a good criticism about our mission because it helps us to improve our mission. >> lasdorp also tells techknow: "there are less serious critics who are only interested to sabotage our mission... by lying". but even if this nonprofit's mission never launches, nasa is laying the ground work today. >> nasa is very much in the mode
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of there are going to be humans on mars. >> we're in the first stages to try to understand what it takes to actually be able to explore with humans on the surface of the planet. we've made a good start on that with our robotic programs. first, it's get down there, see what the planet is like, get those first explorers out there on the surface, and then we can see what the future holds. >> not in a million years would i want to go and colonize mars i mean there's so many risks it's so frightening to me, what is it about you that's different from me and probably most of the people on this planet who are afraid to go? >> some people just have different goals and missions. i want to do something that will change the world - or help the world. >> so if you are selected to go to mars, do you foresee yourself getting married on mars, having children once you're there? >> why not? yeah. it's going to be interesting because... it will happen. >> do you think that's going to be a part of your training? >> i would think so, that's not something we cannot shine away
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from because we are the new frontiers of colonizing another planet in the solar system. >> are you scared? >> leaving earth behind, i will miss it. everybody is trying to get to mars, and i think what stands out with mars one is the permanent settlement. and i think this is the time now. >> so i'm really interested guys, would you sign up for a one way mission to mars. >> i wouldn't. >> you wouldn't? >> no. >> what about you? >> you know. i would possibly but i don't think i would sign up for this one way mission to mars. i mean, if you look throughout history so many pioneers and explorers were, to be fair, a little bit crazy, and sometimes they succeeded but other times they didn't but it would always push progress forward just a little bit. >> it's true. >> you know, i think the merit of this project is the fact that the goal is to try to be able to achieve living on mars. and the result of having a goal like that which is extremely ambitious is the amount of technology that's going to be developed.
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you know, just crazy inventions and innovations that are going to come out of quite a kind of "pie in the sky" objective. >> it's true. >> you know i think we've talked sustaining life on other planets versus sustaining life here on earth, really interesting topics today guys so thank you for them. >> we'll have a lot more of these stories next time here on techknow, we'll see you then. >> dive deep into these stories and go behind the scenes at aljazeera.com/techknow. follow our expert contributors on twitter, facebook, instagram, google+ and more. >> i'll have two or three puffs and i'll already have a nicotine buzz. >> a popular smoking alternative. >> we have to learn have to learn more about electronic cigarettes. >> but could vaping be just as dangerous? >> what are you really taking in? >> we don't know what chemicals are in these things. >> techknow's team of experts show you how the miracles of science... >> i'm standing in a tropical windstorm. >> can affect and surprise us. >> wow, some of these
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are amazing. >> techknow - where technology meets humanity. this is al jazeera america. i'm jonathan betz in new york. here are today's top stories. >> it is wonderful to be back in kenya. [ clapping ] a warm welcome for president obama as he returns to his father's homeland. sandra bland is laid to rest. hundreds mourn the woman found dead in gaol days after being arrested during a traffic stop an uneasy truce broken in yemen. saudi-led forces paused to allow in

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